May 23 -Summary of business headlines: Wall Street hits one-month low, European indices drop two percent on European debt jitters; U.S. gas prices fall; ''Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'' breaks international box office records; IBM tops Microsoft. Conway G. Gittens reports from New York.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Investors are growing more nervous about the European debt crisis. Standard & Poor's cut its outlook on Italy's debt to "negative" and a shift in Spain's political landscape could mean gridlock as that country tries to avoid going down the bailout path. But there's more to worry about than what's going on in Europe, says Anu Sharma of the Nasdaq Intelligence Desk. SOUNDBITE: ANU SHARMA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, NASDAQ OMX MARKET INTELLIGENCE DESK, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think overall there have been concerns about an economy that really hasn't picked up and it's been following off of some poor housing numbers. This is just the icing on the cake. These European problems have been on the front burner for quite some time now, and now we are starting to see a lot of the fast money really getting out of this market place." But lower gas prices may help the recovery - recover. The average U.S. price to fill up a tank fell over the past two weeks, dropping to $3.90 from $3.99, according to the closely-watched Lundberg Survey. Prices are expected to drop further. By the way - crude oil prices fell to close below $98 a barrel on Monday. Recovery is a word Hollywood is longing to hear. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" stole international box office records - taking in $256 million in its global debut. The latest following of Jack Sparrow was a boost to U.S. ticket sales with the strongest debut in what has been a lackluster year. IBM is back on top of Microsoft. For the first time in 15 years, IBM is worth more than Microsoft. As for the rest of the market - stocks were down at least one percent. The Nasdaq down 1.6 percent. The numbers were worse out of Europe, where stocks were down about two percent across the board. Conway Gittens, Reuters